By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to reinforce the bonds of a relationship. Reading time: 3:42
“I’ll be there to give you moral support,” my new boss told me as I prepared for a presentation at a large sales meeting.
It really didn’t matter that my boss never showed. After all, he clearly had confidence me. Besides, the presentation went well as expected.
As soon as I got back to the office, my boss stopped me before I had a chance to sit down.
No “how-did-it-go” inquiry. No excuses for not attending my presentation. No hiding behind the proverbial “emergency that I had to handle.” He just simply confessed:
“I screwed up. I just forgot all about it. I am sorry. So sorry. That’s for you.”
My boss pointed to an envelope on my desk.
The envelope had my name written in perfect penmanship. Inside there was a blank motivational card that said “CHALLENGE” on the front.
I opened the card and read his carefully handwritten apology. I knew my new boss as a highly successful leader who brandished his reputation as a street-smart, don’t-mess-with-me guy.
That’s why I felt goosebumps sprinkle all over my back as I read his words — “I’m sorry. I screwed up….” Each letter he wrote in his best penmanship seemed so thoughtfully scripted. His expensive fountain pen seemed to ooze drops like so many virtual tears.
(Oh, I know that sounds so over the top, but in my world — a dashed note from a boss in lousy penmanship is the rule not the exception. This was no quickly dashed note.) Anyway, after reading his apology, I needed to swallow before getting back to work. My boss’s apology–vocally and verbally –really touched me and rekindled my commitment to him personally and our company collectively.
From the day of that apology going forward, I seemed to bring my “A” game to the office much more often. I was more productive. Maybe I was just working longer rather than smarter. Not sure.
But I figured if my new boss cared that much about me, I should care even more about him. I should care even more about making him look good in hiring me in the first place.
NO CLICK DOES THE TRICK
My new boss-turned-pen-pal taught me a significant leadership lesson that day. It’s a lesson that has served me well in developing teams and building trust over the years:
Value the dignity and worth of your staff. Be true to your word, especially if you are vowing support — materially or spiritually.
And if that bond of trust is broken–be quick; be verbal, be vocal— apologizing personally. In your own voice. In your own handwriting.
From your own heart and soul.
It’s one thing to perfunctorily mouth the words–“I’m sorry” –-and call it good.
It’s another thing to: Sit down; Swallow your pride and your positional authority; Search for a Hallmark Helper ( inspirational cards) ; Write out your apology and Personally deliver it.
That Pen-Pal approach takes more time, more effort, more sincerity and more planning.
No click does the trick. No hiding behind E-mail. No hitting “SEND” to put a quick end to a misunderstanding.
Later, I found out that my new boss stocked inspirational blank greeting cards in his office the way others stock business cards.
And the leadership lesson I learned. Play your cards. Personally.
Especially when you’re saying “I’m sorry.”
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